Night photography: PMK, Rodinal, stand?

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moouers

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Night photography is one of my favorite subjects and I've been doing it for years. Up until now, I've been using Pan F+ in ID-11 with a dilute/static process (I guess people call it "stand" here...and elsewhere) and love the control of such high contrast scenes by using this method. I've become pretty familiar with this method of development and find the result pleasing for the most part. I also enjoy Pan F @ ISO 20 in 1:2 D-76 normal agitation for a slightly higher contrast with still pleasing midtones. Now I'd like to expand outward into some other developers to possibly get even more highlight and shadow detail while retaining the midtones of this film that I absolutely love. I've heard of PMKs ability to keep the highlights under control while letting the rest of the tones develop properly and that certainly appeals to me. I've heard of (and seen) Rodinal performing very well in this regard at 1:100 dilution and stand developed. So, does anyone have any personal experience in comparing these three forms of developing (Rodinal vs PMK vs stand/semi-stand of more common chemicals)?

Also, one of the main things causing me to lean towards Rodinal or PMK Pyro is the shelf-life. Mixed up developers only last a few months, and I would rather have a concentrate that would last for much much longer.

P.S. I shoot 35mm. Thanks for any insights! Oh, and hello everyone: my name is John...figure I should share that since I'm new here.
 

athanasius80

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I don't know about 35mm, but this is a scan of a 4x5 negative. Fuji Acros @ ISO 50 developed in PMK. It really does hold highlights well without graininess. I deliberately overdeveloped a bit for alt. process use but I think you get the idea. Hope it helps!
 

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df cardwell

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Personal experience, eh ?

OK, 40 years with Rodinal. First, there is no point in diluting beyond 1+50,
nor in extending the rest cycles beyond 5 minutes. You haven't hit maximum acutance effects at that point,
but you've maxed out the shadow building, and there is a good balance between midtones and highlights.
And you're still safe from development problems.

Relative to PMK ? Virtually the same.

The BEST is FX-2, Crawley's metol/glycin developer. Better in every way.

You're going to have a ways to go to beat ID-11 at 1+2 / 1+3,
but I'd give FX-2 a try. The main difference will be cleaner and longer highlights.
 

Marco B

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Now I'd like to expand outward into some other developers to possibly get even more highlight and shadow detail while retaining the midtones of this film that I absolutely love.

I really think, instead of venturing into a zillion possible developers, you should also first try overexposure combined with a serious pull development (-25 to -40% shorter development). I think you will be amazed how much more detail you will be able to get without getting unprintable highlights and have good shadow detail as well, especially with a 40% pull if properly overexposed.

I was, when I for the first time tried it in a controlled test from the same subject and using different combinations of exposure and pull development.

It works out especially nice for night time photography, as the films reciprocity failure already tends to increase the negatives contrast, and you will thus need to control it.

In addition, you will be getting nice fine grain...
 
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moouers

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Personal experience, eh ?

OK, 40 years with Rodinal. First, there is no point in diluting beyond 1+50,
nor in extending the rest cycles beyond 5 minutes. You haven't hit maximum acutance effects at that point,
but you've maxed out the shadow building, and there is a good balance between midtones and highlights.
And you're still safe from development problems.

Relative to PMK ? Virtually the same.

The BEST is FX-2, Crawley's metol/glycin developer. Better in every way.

You're going to have a ways to go to beat ID-11 at 1+2 / 1+3,
but I'd give FX-2 a try. The main difference will be cleaner and longer highlights.

Thank you for the suggestions. Photographer's Formulary has a developer called TFX-2, based off FX-2 but with some modern modifications, I guess...have you tried this? If so, how does it compare to the original FX-2?

You're right about ID-11 at 1:2 and 1:3 being marvelous, but honestly I want something with really good shelf life while improving upon what ID-11 already has offered me. Seems like you have made a good suggestion that just may do that. From what I read, TFX-2 has a shelf life of about one year.
 

Larry Bullis

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Only a fanatic would use Windisch pyrocatechin, but I guess I am one. It is unsurpassed for extreme contrast situations. Perhaps you've seen photographs of clear enveloped tungsten bulbs with the glowing filament clearly visible, and the envelope also. Of course, you'd need to mix it from scratch or buy it from Photographer's Formulary, and also, you'd be working with sodium hydroxide which is quite nasty stuff. And you would need to test it with your film. The negatives are brown, so printing on VC papers is really goofy. It works great with graded papers.

It can also be used as a split developer, with results that are pretty much beyond belief.

For those who've seen the image attached, sorry to bore you. The only light was the flashlight, late at night in a dark cave cut by a stream, not even moonlight. The reason that the toe is glowing is that I shot this on 2475 recording film, which had no anti-halation backing.

Oh yes, I should mention. The pyrocatechin stock is diluted greatly, and it keeps for a long time. The sodium hydroxide won't keep as long, but a few months is ok if sealed. The mixed developer is used once and discarded. 500ml of the stock will last a long time unless you are using it daily. Grain depends on the film, of course, and with yours, should be great. It wasn't even bad with 2475, which was famous for its graininess. I also used it with tri x, with which it was quite lovely, actually.
 

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moouers

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I really think, instead of venturing into a zillion possible developers, you should also first try overexposure combined with a serious pull development (-25 to -40% shorter development). I think you will be amazed how much more detail you will be able to get without getting unprintable highlights and have good shadow detail as well, especially with a 40% pull if properly overexposed.

I was, when I for the first time tried it in a controlled test from the same subject and using different combinations of exposure and pull development.

It works out especially nice for night time photography, as the films reciprocity failure already tends to increase the negatives contrast, and you will thus need to control it.

In addition, you will be getting nice fine grain...

Thank you for your contribution :smile:. I already expose Ilford Pan F @ ISO 20 and develop in 1:2 ID-11 or D-76 (more often ID-11). If I know the roll is going to be especially contrasty, I'll do less agitation...sometimes to the point of stand developing. It works gorgeously but I guess I'm just curious if another developer, following the same general methods, will produce even more details that could be useful in a final print AND have the benefit of high shelf life since I don't burn through film too fast. I don't think such massive detail in the highlights is always the way to go with every image, but I certainly do love it in most of the night photography I do!
 
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moouers

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I don't know about 35mm, but this is a scan of a 4x5 negative. Fuji Acros @ ISO 50 developed in PMK. It really does hold highlights well without graininess. I deliberately overdeveloped a bit for alt. process use but I think you get the idea. Hope it helps!

Thank you, and nice image. I've been wanting to try Acros for some time now :smile:
 
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moouers

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Only a fanatic would use Windisch pyrocatechin, but I guess I am one. It is unsurpassed for extreme contrast situations. Perhaps you've seen photographs of clear enveloped tungsten bulbs with the glowing filament clearly visible, and the envelope also. Of course, you'd need to mix it from scratch or buy it from Photographer's Formulary, and also, you'd be working with sodium hydroxide which is quite nasty stuff. And you would need to test it with your film. The negatives are brown, so printing on VC papers is really goofy. It works great with graded papers.

It can also be used as a split developer, with results that are pretty much beyond belief.

For those who've seen the image attached, sorry to bore you. The only light was the flashlight, late at night in a dark cave cut by a stream, not even moonlight. The reason that the toe is glowing is that I shot this on 2475 recording film, which had no anti-halation backing.

Oh yes, I should mention. The pyrocatechin stock is diluted greatly, and it keeps for a long time. The sodium hydroxide won't keep as long, but a few months is ok if sealed. The mixed developer is used once and discarded. 500ml of the stock will last a long time unless you are using it daily. Grain depends on the film, of course, and with yours, should be great. It wasn't even bad with 2475, which was famous for its graininess. I also used it with tri x, with which it was quite lovely, actually.

Thank you very much for the details and information. Sounds like a promising developing solution for some situations. Seems like it is capable of capturing detail in the highlights...does it work well for shadows too?

Oh, and I like the glowing toe...don't think I've seen that before!
 

2F/2F

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I am starting to experiment with D-23 for this, and basic speed/contrast tests make it seem like a promising option as well.

I have done a stand process with Rodinal at up to 1:200. At this dilution, you need at least a stop of overexposure IME, and preferably two, but results are very fascinating. Nice, controlled contrast, lots of detail, lots of sharp grain. No development problems letting film stand for 30 minutes at a time.

I would try Acros or T-max 100 for night photography. Pan F is a beautiful film, but has poor reciprocity during long exposures, and it is extremely contrasty even when shot and developed normally.
 

Larry Bullis

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Thank you very much for the details and information. Sounds like a promising developing solution for some situations. Seems like it is capable of capturing detail in the highlights...does it work well for shadows too?

Oh, and I like the glowing toe...don't think I've seen that before!

Shadows can be controlled with generous exposure. Of course, if there's NO light, no detail. The greater exposure with most film/developer combinations would most likely block up the highlights (develop them right through to the base) or at least give you negatives that would exceed the capacity of even the softest paper. Using this particular developer, those highlights just go on, and on, and on. They just don't ever seem to end.
 

Marco B

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I would try Acros or T-max 100 for night photography. Pan F is a beautiful film, but has poor reciprocity during long exposures, and it is extremely contrasty even when shot and developed normally.

Don't forget TMax 400 (at least if you don't need the finer grain of ISO 100 film), in my experience it will give you even shorter exposure times. The slightly more favourable reciprocity characteristics of Acros 100 and possibly TMax 100, in my experience, DO NOT make up for the 2 stop difference in favour of TMax 400! I have tested it up to 8 hours, and TMax 400 gave the shortest exposure times. Still need to scan those results once for posting here on APUG... sorry I can't show it you yet.
 
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moouers

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Thank you both for your continued responses!

Marco, do you use 35mm?
 

Marco B

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Thank you both for your continued responses!

Marco, do you use 35mm?

Yes, I do, but to be honest, all of my night time 35 mm photography has been on TriX 400, not TMax 400.

I shot TMax 400 at night time in 4x5 format.
 
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moouers

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Marco,

Just checked out your website...I'm extremely impressed. Your "Haarlem by night" was taken using what film? Absolutely phenominal night photography, sir.
 

Marco B

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Marco,

Just checked out your website...I'm extremely impressed. Your "Haarlem by night" was taken using what film? Absolutely phenominal night photography, sir.

That's a bit to much honour... but I am glad you like it :wink:

The "Haarlem by Night" photos are on 35 mm Kodak TriX 400 using my Minolta Dynax 7 camera, the "Siena by night" photos were Kodak TXP 320 using my Tachihara 4x5. The "Amsterdam at night time" photos on Kodak TMax 400 using a Zero Image 4x5 pinhole camera (exposure times up to 45 minutes!, most 20-30 minutes, and a few below 20, using a film like HP5 would have required hours...).
 

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I've tried only Rodinal with stand development. For night photography I use Fuji Neopan 1600 rated at E.I. 1000, development 1+200 for two hours, agitation for just the first minute. I'm not interested in experimentation, so I can't attest this is the optimal combination, but works pretty well.
 

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jon koss

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Great look - can't imagine improving on it! Here's a question regarding the 1+200 for folks who stand develop. Have you tried a controlled test in which you expose, for instance, three pieces of film identically and then develop the first sheet at 1+200 for 30 min, the next at 1+200 for 60 min, and the third at 1+200 for 120 min? If so, I would love to know how much additional detail is achieved at 120 min versus 30.

Thanks in advance,
Jon

I've tried only Rodinal with stand development. For night photography I use Fuji Neopan 1600 rated at E.I. 1000, development 1+200 for two hours, agitation for just the first minute. I'm not interested in experimentation, so I can't attest this is the optimal combination, but works pretty well.
 
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For those who've seen the image attached, sorry to bore you. The only light was the flashlight, late at night in a dark cave cut by a stream, not even moonlight. The reason that the toe is glowing is that I shot this on 2475 recording film, which had no anti-halation backing.

Everybody talks about "the toe". You are the first person to actually document it in photographically. Yeah toe!
 

Marco B

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Examples of overexpose + pull development

Ok, I now scanned some negatives and contact sheets (printed at grade 2 or 2.5) I made for a small test I conducted using Fuji Acros 100 doing overexposure and shortened development.

See the images for the details of exposure times and development. Please note that the actual exposure times are not really "zone system" like, I simply overexposed by about 1 and 2 stops, while for N-1 and N-2 development, I think you would normally give less increase in exposure... On the other hand, we are already well in reciprocity failure range.

Anyway, I was flabbergasted to see these results when I first tested this last year. I didn't realize it was possible to bend the contrast curve this much... Although the negatives with longest exposure admittedly are overexposed, and loose the night atmosphere, if you look closely, you will notice the about 40% shortened development time has restricted the highlights very well... They are NOT more dense than the normal development of 10.5 minutes, in fact, they seem about equal or maybe even a bit less dense...

Although the 6 minutes exposure of the Teylers museum and the 12 minutes exposure of the St.Bavo cathedral look and are overexposed, since the highlights were restricted by the shortened development, I was able to get quite normal test prints from them using a longer exposure in the enlarger, and a harder grade (e.g. 3-3.5), to lessen the overdone effect of overexposure and shortened development.

EXAMPLE 1, Teylers museum, NEGATIVES:
http://www.boeringa.demon.nl/techni...tography/Example1_TeylersMuseum_negatives.jpg

EXAMPLE 1, Teylers museum, CONTACT SHEET:
http://www.boeringa.demon.nl/techni...raphy/Example1_TeylersMuseum_contactsheet.jpg

EXAMPLE 2, St. Bavo Cathedral, NEGATIVES:
http://www.boeringa.demon.nl/techni...ime_photography/Example2_StBavo_negatives.jpg

EXAMPLE 2, St. Bavo Cathedral, CONTACT SHEET:
http://www.boeringa.demon.nl/techni..._photography/Example2_StBavo_contactsheet.jpg

Hope this helps. Please note, that although this method works out very well for nighttime scenes, I am less certain it would be appropriate for daytime scenes, where the increased negative contrast caused by reciprocity failure is not a key factor, as in nighttime photography. Stand development and other specialized developers may be more appropriate there...

Of course, even using these methods, there will still likely be the need to burn-in some parts of the images, as is also the case with these two negatives, for example the lighted tower top.

Marco
 
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